Donald Trump was indicted on Tuesday for his wide-ranging attempts to overturn the 2020 election, the third time in four months that the former U.S. president has been criminally charged even as he campaigns to regain the presidency next year.
The four-count, 45-page indictment charges Republican Trump with conspiring to defraud the U.S. by preventing Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory and to deprive voters of their right to a fair election.
Then-President Trump pushed fraud claims he knew to be untrue, pressured state and federal officials – including Vice President Mike Pence – to alter the results and finally incited a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol in a desperate attempt to undermine American democracy and cling to power, prosecutors said.
Trump was ordered to make an initial appearance in federal court in Washington on Thursday. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who was appointed by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
The charges stem from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s sprawling investigation into allegations Trump sought to reverse his loss to Biden. Despite a dizzying and growing array of legal troubles, Trump has solidified his status as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, according to public opinion polls.
Weeks of assertions that the election had been stolen culminated in a fiery Trump speech on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress met to certify the results. Soon after, his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to stop Congress from formalizing Biden’s victory.
In a brief statement to reporters, Smith placed the blame for the violence squarely on Trump’s shoulders.
“The attack on our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy. As described in the indictment, it was fueled by lies – lies by the defendant, targeted at obstructing the bedrock function of the U.S. government,” Smith said.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.